Tomorrow, Alexander Payne’s Downsizing hits theaters. The film follows Paul Safranek (Matt Damon), a mild-mannered guy in financial straits who decides with his wife (Kristen Wiig) to take advantage of new procedure and lifestyle where they shrink down to five-inches-tall, and because everything in their new world is smaller, their money goes further. When Aubrey bails after Paul’s had the procedure, he’s left adrift in his new, tiny world and looking for purpose. The film also stars Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, and Udo Kier.
I recently got to do a phone interview with Matt Damon for the film. During our conversation, we talked about how he got involved with the project, what it’s like to work with Alexander Payne, his hilarious cameo in Thor: Ragnarok, why it’s difficult for him to revisit Good Will Hunting, and more.
Check out the interview below. Downsizing opens tomorrow.
MATT DAMON: Pretty easy answer. It was just Alexander Payne asked me if I wanted to do his movie. I’d really been wanting to work with him for a long time, and this was the first chance I had, and I wasn’t going to pass it up.
How does working with Alexander Payne compare to other directors you’ve worked with?
DAMON: He’s similar in a lot of ways to kind of the great directors that I’ve worked with, in that he’s really solicitive of other people’s opinions, and he doesn’t have an ego about the work. He just really wants it to be as good as it can be.
But he’s different in the sense that I was surprised at how meticulous he is. He doesn’t shoot in coverage, by that I mean he doesn’t shoot a lot of extraneous things and then decide later whether or not he needs them. He’s very sure of himself and of the shots he needs to make. It’s just that he does a lot of takes of each shot, which is, as an actor, it’s great, because it’s not a situation where you’re … If you do 50 takes of something, you don’t begrudge the director. The shot is born to be in the movie. The director is just trying to get it exactly as he wants it. And that’s a good reason to do a lot of shots.
When doing a lot of shots, do you feel that gives you the freedom to sort of try different things and try different approaches to a scene?
DAMON: Yeah. There’s always freedom to kind of try stuff, and to kind of do stuff and be open to stuff that happens in the moment. Just because he has an idea of what he wants to bring in, it doesn’t mean he tries to be overly controlling. It’s just that he knows when he’s got the shot once he gets it. That’s good. It makes you feel like you’re in the hands of somebody who really … because he’s got the movie in camera, you can feel that you’re in the hands of a master director.